Heading into first-ever playoff game, Vipers remain focused on goals still ahead

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The Vandegrift baseball team is entering new territory.

The Vipers made the playoffs for the first time in school history this season after a fourth-place finish in District 25-6A. It was a remarkable accomplishment for a team won just a single district game in 2015 before Allen McGee was named head coach last season. But they’re trying to remain focused on what remains ahead despite all the accolades.

“We try to keep the focus on us and not let any outside distractions get to us,” McGee said. “For our kids, it’s something new. Everybody’s telling them how excited they are.”

Vandegrift hosts District 26-6A champion San Antonio Churchill Friday at 7 p.m. in the first of a three-game series. Game 2 is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Blossom Athletic Complex and, if necessary, Game 3 will follow half an hour later. 

To say Churchill was dominant this season would be an understatement. The Chargers lost one game at home all year, averaged nearly eight runs a game and scored 223 runs, almost 100 more than the Vipers did.

The pitchers have carried the Vipers this far, allowing just 77 runs all years, the second fewest in District 25-6A. And they allowed five or more runs just five times in district play.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys that can throw strikes,” McGee said. “If you get to Game 3 it comes down to which starter can throw strikes consistently. We’ve been in playoff mode for a while because we’ve been playing three district ballgames every week.”

The Vipers ended the year taking one of three games against state No. 2 Lake Travis, their only win in the final six games after getting swept by Hays the series before. They won three of four against Leander and two of three against Westlake this season. 

The solid pitching and a competitive season in a district filled with quality opponents are what gives McGee the confidence Vandegrift can make some noise in their first playoff appearance.

“Our kids know that we can play with those type of opponents as long as we don’t get caught up in the hype and play our game. It’s tough to reel in sometimes. But that’s why we’re here as coaches because we know the challenges that are coming ahead of us."

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